Cathay Pacific cabin crew union drops protest; urges ‘work-to-rule’ action

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Manpower cut and increased workload, permanent pay cut and reduced rest time – these are just a few of the reasons why Cathay Pacific cabin crew members have “reached the edge” and planned to stage a protest on January 18, 2022.

“While we always provide service straight from our hearts, our hearts are broken. From tremendous redundancy, huge permanent pay cut, outport allowance cut, manpower cut but increased workload, reduced rest time to reduced outport layover period, we have reached the edge,” the Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union said in an open letter published to its Facebook page, addressed to “Hong Kongers and our valued customers”. 

Canceled protest

On the evening of January 17, 2023, however, the union announced that the planned assembly or protest for January 18, 2023 will be canceled after withdrawing its application for a “Letter of No Objection” from Hong Kong police. 

The union had earlier applied for a “Letter of No Objection” from HK police, along with plans to hold the assembly outside Cathay Pacific City, the airline’s headquarters located at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). 

Cathay Pacific did not consent to the assembly taking place within the premises.

“As a responsible Union, our first priority is to protect our Members from involving any unauthorized assembly. Therefore, this leaves us no choice but to withdraw our request for the approval for Letter of No Objection from the police,” the union said in a Facebook post on January 17, 2023.

Work-to-rule action

Despite the canceled protest, the union reminded its members to abide by the so-called “work-to-rule” action starting January 19, 2023.  

The “work-to-rule” action means employees only do as much work as stipulated by their contracts. This includes employees refusing to work on days off. 

According to the union, this action was endorsed by 100% of its members present during its most recent general meeting in December 2022. 

The union said that Cathay Pacific had ignored its concerns about long working hours and manpower shortages since 2021.

“If you’re not going to do this the easy way, we’ll have to do it the hard way,” the union said, seemingly addressing the airline. 

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